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Piggybacking on Your Neighbor’s WiFi

Written by Nickel - 112 Comments

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CNN/Money recently ran an article about piggybacking on your neighbor’s wireless internet service rather than paying for your own, and they have since published a followup detailing reader reactions. While two-thirds of their poll respondents considered such network “sharing” to be stealing, the majority of those that actually took the time to write in were of the “if it’s in my house, then I’m free to use it” mindset.

So where do you stand? If your neighbor’s WiFi signal extended into your space, and it wasn’t secured in any way, would you make use of it? If you have a wireless network of your own, how would you feel about others using it? And have you taken any steps to stop them?

In my opinion, network owners are responsible for securing their connections, and I wouldn’t really have an ethical problem with using someone else’s network if they broadcast an unsecured signal it into my house. That being said, I wouldn’t be comfortable depending on someone else connection for my internet access. This is purely a pragmatic issue, as I wouldn’t want to deal with the possible unreliability of someone else’s wireless network. After all, they could pull the plug at any time. And there’s also the issue of data security — there’s no telling what someone might be doing with your data as it passes through their network.

As far as someone accessing my network goes, I’d be pissed. I’m actually posting this message over my wireless network, and it’s as secure as I can make it… It’s password protected, the signal is encrypted, and I also have MAC authentication turned on, such that only ‘approved’ computers are allowed to connect. While none of these measures are foolproof, they should keep out all but the most determined riff-raff. And if someone did manage to get through, I’d definitely consider them to be intruders. The one security measure that my router doesn’t offer, but which I’d really like, is the ability to stop it from broadcasting its SSID. This basically equates to stopping it from shouting out its name as loud as it can, such that the network is more or less invisible to those that don’t already know that it’s there.

Of course, if you want free wireless access and you don’t want to risk stepping on your neighbor’s toes, then you could always seek out free WiFi networks in your area. Or you could be to approach your neighbor about sharing both their connection and the cost. While this sort of sharing is almost certainly against the ISP’s rules, there virtually no way they can enforce it, and it could save both you and your neighbor a decent chunk of change.

Published on August 16th, 2005 - 112 Comments
Filed under: Online

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. If you leave your wireless open and I can reach it while I’m in my own home, then I don’t consider it stealing. A lot of the new network admin programs make it easy to lock down your network and require a WEP key, you don’t need to navigate through difficult to understand screens to do it, so there is no excuse.

    However, if I was using someone else’s wireless, I would be considerate of my bandwidth usage. I wouldn’t be downloading videos, I’d restrict it to just surfing the web, just out of courtesy.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 16th 2005 @ 7:20 am
  2. I briefly discovered I could pick up someone’s leaking signal on my wi-fi enabled PDA. It was nice to be able to quickly log on and check something once in a while without turning on my laptop, for which I only have dial-up. It was very minor usage, and I didn’t think it would be disruptive. But I guess they figured it out because lately it doesn’t work well– it’s not that it’s asking me to log in, I just get network error messages if I try to actually view a website. If I had wi-fi and could be sure that there was no risk to the security of my own data, I wouldn’t mind sharing with a neighbor.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 16th 2005 @ 8:06 am
  3. Where do I stand? I don’t think this is ethical. Just because someone leaves their door open doesn’t mean it’s an invitation to use their stuff. To me this is no different. I get free wireless when I want it, thanks to many places in Seattle within walking distance that offer free WiFi, but even if I didn’t I couldn’t do it.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 16th 2005 @ 4:48 pm
  4. If the person does not take an precaution to turn on the very easy to turn on security features and I can merely turn on my wireless card and it lets me on the internet from your wi-fi while I am in my underwear and socks sitting on my sofa then what’s wrong there? Do I have a case for me with regards to a person’s leaking wi-fi onto my “property” and the unproven long-term effects of it? No, so why do they have any rights if they didn’t secure it. However, if I “broke in” or “hacked” a person’s wi-fi then I can see a problem.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 16th 2005 @ 4:56 pm
  5. My wireless connection is wide open…my bandwidth isn’t scarce enough to worry about jealously guarding it, and anything _important_ goes through SSH or an encrypted OpenVPN tunnel anyway.

    In fact, for a while I was _deliberately_ sharing the connection with my downstairs neighbors. I might lock it down if someone piggybacking on the connection was doing something that disrupted my use of it, but so far that hasn’t been an issue.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 17th 2005 @ 1:56 am
  6. I would use the free wireless if it was in my home.
    I believe it is the same as someone watering their lawn, If the power of the hose is so strong they water some of my lawn, I’m not going to complain to them to turn it down, I’ll use it. It helps cut back on some of my water use.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 17th 2005 @ 6:08 pm
  7. I don’t believe the analogy of the open door, come in and use my stuff is correct – that’s why you probably have a strong voice against it. Dawn’s is more accurate, say someone was watering their lawn and some of the water spilled into a puddle on my property… you paid for the water, it’s technically yours, but if I wanted to put it in a bucket and water my plants, it’s probably okay. I see wireless as the same.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 18th 2005 @ 1:13 pm
  8. I agree that the ‘open door’ analogy has very little to do with this. You are not physically trespassing on your neighbor’s property when you use their bandwidth so, from that standpoint, it’s totally unrelated. While the ISP almost certainly places restrictions on the sharing of a connection, that contract is between them and the customer (your neighbor). As such, it is incumbent upon the customer to take reasonable precautions to be sure that they live up to their end of the bargain (if they choose to do so).

    If I had to come up with an analogy, this would be more along the lines of finding a newspaper in a public place. Is it okay to pick it up and read it? Here’s my take… If the person that purchased it is nowhere to be found, then yes, I’d say it would be. If, on the other hand, the owner has taken reasonable precautions to secure the paper — let’s say that you ‘found’ it folded up under their arm as they were strolling by — then no, it’s not okay.

    Comment by Nickel — Aug 18th 2005 @ 1:27 pm
  9. How would you feel about someone listening in on conversations you are having on your cordless telephone or over a baby monitor? These are broadcast technologies, just like wifi.

    Or, to make a more similar analogy, how would you feel about someone connecting to your cordless phone base from their house and making calls while you are away, even if there were no charge incurred?

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 18th 2005 @ 1:59 pm
  10. The newspaper analogy is a great one. I subscribe to the paper, and when I am done, I try to prop it on the edge of the trash can in case someone wants it. (But I don’t go out of my way to make sure it doesn’t fall in.) If someone takes it, great– makes no difference to me because I’m going to buy the paper anyway. But if someone seemed to be following me every single day just to make sure they could grab my paper when I was done, I’d be annoyed and think they should just pay for it themselves if they want it that badly.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 18th 2005 @ 4:01 pm
  11. Listening in on conversations over baby monitors or cordless phones is a different beast… Nobody here is suggest that intercept your neighbors communications. But you do have an interesting point with the cordless phone analogy.

    Comment by Nickel — Aug 18th 2005 @ 4:16 pm
  12. yeah it has always been an issue. I believe I’m one of the first to have wifi setup in my neighborhood (about 4 years ago?).. as time passed we started seeing more and more signal, we have like 5-7 different networks that we can connect to!

    it was interesting to see the progress too through time.. each of those network slowly have more security on it.. WEP password key, MAC filtering, etc. etc.

    ah, technology. anyways, it’s a bit iffy. without their approval, its definitely stealing bandwidth.. but how is that different than without their knowledge? tough call. a user should have their own responsibility to secure their own network. I think it could be overwhelming to some people, but if they could get it to setup to work, they should be able to set a simple password. that’ll deter most people easily.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 21st 2005 @ 2:44 pm
  13. I have a wireless network and so do two of my neighbors. Their networks are unsecured and so if mine drops out for any reason, my computer automatically connects to theirs. This is really annoying when I want to use the printer (to which I am also wirelessly connected) and have somehow gotten connected up to the wrong network without noticing.

    Hey neighbors! Secure your networks!

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 22nd 2005 @ 12:05 am
  14. I’d use a wireless network, if I had something to connect wirelessly with. People should secure their networks if they want to transmit it into my home.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 23rd 2005 @ 3:02 pm
  15. When my wife and I moved to the D.C. region, we had to get our net situation settled because my wife kept her old job and would be telecommutting. Comcast originally said they would have a technician to us in 48 hours, but then backtracked and said ten days. My upstairs neighbor had an unencrypted wifi system that broadcast at a 100% signal strength in to my home. I didn’t like piggybacking, but I didn’t feel bad about it either. If my neighbor plays a great album extremely loud (actually, with my walls, extremely loud is a 2/10), then should I pug my ears so as not to enjoy it? Should I pay them for the entertainment? SHould contact the RIAA and complain that they are freely broadcasting copyrighted music? Honestly, take some responsibilty upon yourself and encrypt the system. It takes two minutes and is built into pretty much every modern system, including operating systems. I left a note on my neighbor’s door to tell them they should protect their sytem from hackers, after we had our system up and running. Thanks, neighbor!

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 24th 2005 @ 12:16 pm
  16. If I had a landline and someone wanted to use it and it would have no discernible impact on my use (or any cost) of the system, then I wouldn’t care. Listening in on a conversation with a baby monitor is not a fair analogy though.

    Do believe the newspaper analogy is best for this case.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 24th 2005 @ 1:57 pm
  17. I have no problem with sharing my wifi connection with anyone. The only problem is that if someone using your “free” wireless does something illegal,ie: downloading kiddie porn, downloading Star Wars III, sending the president death threats, etc.. then when the FBI does a lookup it comes back to your house. Sure you say I’ve never done anything like that, but you’ve opened the door for them to bust in and go through all your stuff just to disprove it. Also if your doing something bandwidth intensive, like downloading the latest Linux distro, you’ll lose some of your bandwidth to your neighbor. Other than that I have no problem with it!

    Comment by Anonymous — Sep 28th 2005 @ 6:00 pm
  18. My neighbors keeps their’s wide open too… It’s almost annoying because my laptop defaults to their network since it there is no WEP key like on mine, and I don’t like the idea of sending all my passwords into the air unencrypted. But many people leave their access points open on purpose, how can you tell if it’s not so?

    Comment by Anonymous — Oct 29th 2005 @ 10:30 pm
  19. Jonathan,
    In Windows you can specify the order in which to connect onto known networks and that should solve your problem.

    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 1st 2005 @ 4:45 pm
  20. You also need to remember – you piggyback on a neighbor’s WiFi – no telling if he or she is intercepting your communications and logging all your data.. after all – you trust his router now 🙂

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 1st 2005 @ 5:29 pm
  21. I’ve wondered about the legal liability question. Does anyone know if there have been any test cases in which this happened? Give that the RIAA has sued everyone and his brother, I would assume that someone tried this defense.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 19th 2005 @ 7:34 pm
  22. Funny Thing: what about leaving your WiFi unsecured EXACTLY for the legal ramifications?

    I leave mine open, and when all the pedophile/terrorist/baby killers next store wreak havoc on the world with the connection, then how can i be liable?

    AOL had a test case about a similar topic: if you police it you are responsible for it; if not then…


    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 17th 2006 @ 2:32 am
  23. OK…I’ll admit it. I’ve been borrowing my neighbor’s internet access without his permission. I’m in a undisclosed Central American country and stealing WiFi is no fellony here. Cable internet access is horribly high ($52 per month). I hid a wireless expander (Linksys WRE54G paired to his BEFW11S4) inside a lamp outside my house and pulling in as much as 400 kbits (not that I am, but I could).

    Didn’t know it was such as big deal until I started to read the opinions of other people. Don’t know if I would stop doing it as to my best knowledge I’m not hurting anyone.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 1st 2006 @ 12:00 pm
  24. My wi-fi is open on purpose. I had it locked down for awhile, but cable went out briefly one day when I really needed it and, hey, I was able to log on to someone else’s open wi-fi and get what I needed. That was enough for me. My wi-fi network is secure: I control the secure user/id and password and port to my router. I control access to all of the PC’s attached to my network.

    The raw internet connection, however is wide open. SSID is broadcasr, not MAC address required. Why, I think EVERYONE should be set up this way. I think we should have a country where just about everywhere you go, you can get an internet signal.
    I think the only people against it are the service providers and the paranoid.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 6th 2006 @ 9:49 am
  25. My personal opinion on it is that anything that travels off of my private property is fair game. Wireless phones, network connection, water, – whatever. If you can access it without physically coming on my property then it is public domain.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to secure my connection. That is why if you don’t want someone on your network it is best to use WPA. All the other methods mentioned are pretty much worthless. The only thing they really do is prevent someone from accidently getting on your network.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 10th 2006 @ 12:40 am
  26. Here is an answer to the legality question, at least for Winnebago county in IL (my home state)

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 25th 2006 @ 10:36 am
  27. The fact that there is no physical trespass probably has very little to do with whether it is legal or not. By analogy, the Supreme Court said in Katz that no physical trespass is required for the police to have searched or seized your property under the Fourth Amendment.

    In my opinion, it is a problem that will never really be resolved by the courts. By the time the courts really get around to it, most cities will have implemented free wifi citywide (or will be well on their way).

    Comment by Anonymous — May 17th 2006 @ 8:55 am
  28. I have piggybacked on other’s wifi but not for long periods. A good example is when I supervise contractors in the rental properties. To keep working on my normal job I sit at the property and piggyback on the neighbors wifi.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 18th 2006 @ 10:36 am
  29. If someone is going to subject my body with RF (radio freqency) w/o my permission, then I have a MORAL obligation to intercept and use those RF signal causing me cancer to what ever means I see fit!

    Comment by Anonymous — May 25th 2006 @ 5:09 pm
  30. well, if a connection is open, why not, it is unlikely the users will be hurt because most ISPs today come with enough bandtwith for over twenty users, and most sites cannot stream data that quickly anyway. there are connections with 512KBps(considered low end), however most sites restrict upload rates per user, i rarely see over 100 kilobytes per second. my uncle shares his network, he has no problem, it is no big deal. some people are greedy though.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 14th 2006 @ 5:01 pm
  31. It’s a two way street – If you can access the net thru their wifi there is a strong chance they can access your computers. Make sure your security is tight.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 26th 2006 @ 1:04 pm
  32. I’m deleting the bookmark for this site. If you lack the moral discernment for this eminently simple matter, I don’t trust your advice for my finances either.

    It’s about honoring your agreements. You sign or consent to a user agreement with the ISP which includes prohibition of connection sharing. It is therefore wrong for you to share it, or for your neighbor to share it, or for you to consume an unethically shared connection. Just because you CAN take something doesn’t mean it is ethical to do so. It either belongs to you, or it does not. The Internet connection belongs to the ISP and you or your neighbor pay a fee for the right to access it. Just because a wireless connection enters the airspace of your property doesn’t make it yours to do with as you please.

    I really worry about a culture when moral relativism is so pervasive that we forget the most basic tenets of ethical behavior. Taking something that does not belong to you is stealing, no matter how you like to rationalize it.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 8th 2006 @ 11:51 am
  33. Wow, seems like this post really touched a nerve with you. For what it’s worth, we’ve paid for our own internet connection as long as we’ve had access to the internet (well, that’s not completely true, as we used to get free dialup through the University). I don’t have a problem with people doing it, but I’ve never done it myself. And we’ve always locked down our wireless network in every way possible (short of unplugging it). Anyway, by the looks of the responses here, you’re going to have delete an a lot of bookmarks to personal finance blogs, as an awful lot of people think it’s okay.

    Comment by Nickel — Aug 8th 2006 @ 12:10 pm
  34. I noticed that a few years ago, actually even about 6 months ago, most of the areas I was in had plenty of unsecured netowrks. That is much less the case now. Over the last 30 days or so, only about 25% of the WiFi networks I’ve run across have been open. My own WiFi net is unencrypted now, but I don’t braodcast my SSID & live in a fairly remote area. I should turn the WPA on for safety though.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 15th 2006 @ 1:46 am
  35. I agree with Rob, just because you CAN take something, doesn’t mean you should. To address your comment Nickel “Anyway, by the looks of the responses here, you’re going to have delete an a lot of bookmarks to personal finance blogs, as an awful lot of people think it’s okay.” You can’t possible justify using other peoples’ wifi just because the majority of people think its ok. It should be whether or not the person who owns the wifi thinks its ok, go ask them instead of just taking it.

    Comment by Anonymous — Oct 27th 2006 @ 11:09 am
  36. I am torn.

    First thing I think most people can agree on is that it is wrong to “Hack” into a password protected system. This is the equivalant to digital breaking and entering. Back to the newspaper analogy this would be the equivalent to picking a lock to access another’s newspaper.

    Secondly, I am un-aware of liability precident. Going back to someone emailing the president death threats, Kiddie porn, etc. Would someone please enlighten me on this? I suppose most of the time the law enforcement would have a tough time convicting you and play heck trying to decide who was using your connection. But man, what a hassle. What would happen legally if someone where to take another’s newspaper left in a public place, roll it up and assault another with it. I would hope there wouldn’t be a wacky enough judge to assign liability to you for that.

    Lastly, where the newspaper comparison ends is the fact that the person with an unsecured network is unwittingly leaving their connection to the public.

    Ideally I would like manufacturers to send each new wireless router out with encryption turned on by default. This would be easy enough, publish the password in the owner’s manual. Then if someone intentially turns encryption off it could be assumed they have no problem with the publiic using the connection.

    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 20th 2006 @ 6:38 pm
  37. There are so many unsecured wifi spots in my neighborhood that sometimes my computer automatically connects to one and I don’t even know it.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 16th 2007 @ 4:13 pm
  38. Does it go both ways? If I have an open Access Point on the network and you use it to connect to the internet, does that give me legal standing to connect to you? By my provider’s terms of service, I am responsible for everything that goes on in my network. If someone is being malicious and connecting through my network, can’t I be malicious on them?

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 11th 2007 @ 1:55 am
  39. Jeremy: If someone is stealing from you, does that make it right for you to steal from them? No, and I think that rule applies to WiFi as well. Spend that time to secure your AP unless you’re just looking for an excuse, then you don’t really care about legalities 🙂

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 11th 2007 @ 7:42 am
  40. I understand that everyone is talking about the ethics of using someone else’s wireless.

    I’m sorta beyond that. Well, let me give you the whole situation…

    I am in my house, brick house surronded by a large yard (about a half acre) and lots of tall trees. My neighbors are all on similar set ups, so there is a great deal of distance between us. I bought one of these new lap tops that automatically tries to get on the internet when it turns on, and strangely enough it can. (I do not personally have wireless internet and I have no idea where it’s coming from.) It says it has a low signal, but it connects at between 11 and 24 Mbps, which seems high to me since I’ve only previously used dialup at speeds like 32kbps. My thoughts are that if the signal can get through all the distance between me and the nearest house, when my cordless phone gets all staticy when I go out to the mailbox, then I guess I get free internet….UNLESS

    and here comes my question: what can the source of this wireless tell about me?

    I have no idea where it’s coming from. All my neighbors are very old and I didn’t even know any of them had computers. When I use this connection, can they see the websites I go to? Can they read my email now? If it says I’m connected at 11Mbps and I download something at 153kbps am I slowing them down? My thinking since it said I had a very low signal strength is that I’m using a very small portion of their connection that was already lost to them anyway, since it’s obviously being broadcast way over here into my house. They must have one fast connection.

    If anyone can find a way to contribute helpful information to this long and rambling Grampa Simpson story I’ve told, I’ll thank ya for it.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 21st 2007 @ 2:53 am
  41. Greg, yes, they technically can see what websites you visit and what emails you download.

    If you want to avoid having them be able to do that, you need to either use your own internet connection or else use encryption. You want to use SSL connections whenever possible, whether you are connecting to a POP3 server for your email or if you are using webmail.

    I use Google Applications for Domains, which includes a gmail interface for my business; whenever I want to connect, I make sure to use https instead of http so that I know that I am using a secure connection.

    The same goes for any time you are using free internet at a store or airport, as well.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 21st 2007 @ 9:48 am
  42. First, thank you for the help. I didn’t expect an answer so quickly.

    I’m pretty sure no one cares, because I have keys to most of these houses so i can water plants and feed cats and fish and birds and check mail for these people when they go out of town. And I am the one that was previously subjected to copious amounts of excess radiation unknowingly, so why not get something for my trouble?

    The super evil thing I was going to do that I wasn’t sure about, was check my yahoo mail and myspace. So far I haven’t done anything that asked for a password.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 21st 2007 @ 2:17 pm
  43. Referenced in Money and Investing.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 1st 2007 @ 1:59 pm
  44. we did piggy back our nieghbors wi-fi until they moved. We tried not to abuse this, not downloading huge files and things.
    Then we got our own wi-fi, and locked it down as tight as we could. I wouldn’t mind sharing with some of my neighbors, but I’d like to have some control over it.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 27th 2007 @ 7:47 pm
  45. WEP and MAC address protection were always extremely weak protections, WPA is moderate, and WPA2 is good although not fool proof either. Hopefully now in 2007 no one is foolish enough to be without at least standard WPA2.

    While I wouldn’t mind very much if my neighbors used my wireless connection it is rude and raises a lot of legal issues. A neighbor stealing your internet who does something illegal can get you blamed for what they did. Conversly if you’re using someone elses connection and they do something illegal, but they can prove that you were also using their connection that can get you into hot water.

    Also if you as a wireless user are using SSL that does not protect your information at all from whoever has the wireless transmitter or base station. Just remember if you sign on to your bank, use your credit card, or check your email on an unknown network they can see everything if they wanted to.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 1st 2007 @ 8:49 am
  46. If it’s in my home you aren’t going to stop me from using it. It is the equivalent of my neighbor going out and buying a new sofa-but the sofa is too large and busts through my wall into my living room. Then they want to arrest you for sitting on it.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 13th 2007 @ 4:58 pm
  47. Anthony Scarano, you sound like a real nice neighbour 🙁 You analogy is false. The sofa would have caused damange to your wall and it would be physically invading your space. Funny wireless signals you’re used to! If I found someone had an unsecured wireless I’d find out who it was and let them know, out of common courtesy, although I guess saying, “Nah, stuff ’em” and taking what’s theirs is easier.

    Last week I found someone had been stealing my bandwidth. It wasn’t because I couldn’t be bothered to secure my router, it was because when I set the router up the CD s/w didn’t work, so I phoned support. They talked me through set-up but never mentioned I had to secure wireless even when using wired (which I do) so I had no reason to assume wireless was enabled and unsecured by default. If I had intended to use wireless of course I would have secured it.

    Looks like you and a few others would see me as fair game for theft, then, much like my neighbours.

    Just because something is easy to take it doesn’t mean it’s right to take it. What a society we live in.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 22nd 2007 @ 12:04 pm
  48. Plain and simple, if you don’t want someone on your wi-fi connection, then secure it. You might as well assume that if you haven’t protected it, someone else is using it and you’re fine with it.

    You don’t need fancy analogies, or elaborate true stories.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 15th 2007 @ 10:58 am
  49. When I first moved into my new apartment I was very grateful that some of my neighbors had unsecured wireless internet as it meant I was able to take care of e-mails, online banking etc for the first few days before I was able to gt my own internet connection.

    But I would never consider just stealing their connection for the long term.

    Comment by Anonymous — Sep 25th 2007 @ 12:39 pm
  50. Legislation is being considered to force wifi manufacturers to enable encryption by default. Perhaps this will slow the unauthorized access issue down. Until this is done, I will consider an open wifi to be an invitation to use it. It takes two minutes to enable one so no excuse exists not to secure one if security is on the owner’s mind. Also, the ordinary wifi owner has no way of knowing who is using his signal. Perhaps the paranoid power user could install monitoring software but would be more inclined to encrypt the signal than to keep it open for all to use. So, the key to sharing a neighbor’s connection is to respect the access by not downloading illegal stuff, threatening people, or squandering the bandwidth. The ISP can id the offender if he accesses email accounts or other identifying portals since they do keep records of access.

    Personally, I lock my home account but will use my parent’s neighbor’s wifi for light browsing.

    Comment by Anonymous — Oct 8th 2007 @ 5:17 pm
  51. I used to have a neighbor with an unsecured connection. I discovered it when we moved in, so I saved a year or two worth of internet fees until they changed their service to something secured. I studied up on hacking that security, but I figured it was more trouble than its worth, so I just ponied up and paid for service. It just seems like a waste. Neighbors should band together and just have every third person on the street pay and then split the bill. Stealing? Maybe the phone or cable company would consider it that, but it’s the phone or cable company, and I just don’t feel their pain.

    Comment by Anonymous — Oct 18th 2007 @ 6:32 pm
  52. Ok heres my view:

    If someones wifi is open and has no WEP or any type of security, its free to use. They are responsible for securing it, and if they dont, its a sign that says “hey im free”. – In fact, i am connected RIGHT NOW to a network named “Free Internet Access”. There is no commercial businesses or stores or coffee shops near me, i live in a suburban neighborhood, its one of my neighbors signals. Theyre basically saying come on in.

    I pick up 13 access points, which 10 are secured.

    I am currently using one called “T-Mobile” and its very fast. So i took it and i have 2 wireless routers hooked to my desktop that i re-broadcast the t-mobile signal freely so more people can connect to it. I feel its not wrong to use it if its open.

    Thats my opinion.


    Comment by Anonymous — Oct 30th 2007 @ 2:29 am
  53. oh, and also…

    1 year ago when i had high speed comcast internet, i brodcasted it with no security. Yes, i have antivirus/firewall telling me when someone has connected to my network, and let me tell you ALOT of computers connected that i had no clue who they were. As long as they cant mess up my files, or view them, thats fine with me.

    And as long as they dont hog up bandwidth, i am fine sharing my connection.

    Comment by Anonymous — Oct 30th 2007 @ 2:33 am
  54. My neighbor and I share a connection and share the monthly cost. We keep it secured and use a password that we both know. We have been neighbors for a long time, so we trust they will not search anything illegal, and I guess they trust the same of us. Hasworked out pretty good so far

    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 27th 2007 @ 12:13 pm
  55. Here is the PERFECT ANALOGY:

    Let’s say that my neighbor sets up a big screen TV in his living room, then watches movies on it every night, with the windows wide open and the sound turned up. I can plainly see the TV set from my window without ANY effort at all to PEEP.

    I might choose to sit back and watch a free movie from time to time. If he doesn’t want me looking into his home and watching his TV, he needs to close his window blinds and turn down the sound.

    This goes for WIFI as well. If you broadcast your signal into MY HOME so that I can just select your network and logon… without any special effort, then I may choose to do so. If you don’t want me to access your WIFI, then turn on your password and enable encryption, etc. It’s as easy as closing a window blind.

    The other thing of note here is that broadcasting an OPEN WIFI signal is also an action that will TEMPT those who can access it to do so. You wouldn’t have sex with all the lights on and the curtains wide open would you? If you did, and somebody was looking at you, that’s YOUR fault. Your actions have been made PUBLIC by you (even though they are within your home) and they are also actions that will clearly attract ATTENTION.

    OPEN WIFI signals are basically FREE for all. If you don’t want your signal used, turn on your protection.

    Joe WIFI

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 3rd 2007 @ 11:22 pm
  56. I did this for awhile in my apartment to cut costs. It worked fine, except for when the neighbors who were unknowingly offering this free wifi connection moved out…

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 19th 2007 @ 3:52 am
  57. Joe WIFI, I think your analogy is far from perfect.

    First, your watching my television from my house would not diminish the service I am paying for. If you use my wireless connection, you are using bandwidth that I am paying for and am not receiving while you are logged on. Regardless of whether it negatively affects me, you have spliced my internet service.

    Second, when you access my wireless network, you access through a router and modem. Both the router and modem my property.

    Third, I believe that you choosing my wireless network and logging on to it is special effort.

    Fourth, If I were your neighbor, I’d move. I don’t want to live near someone who thinks it’s okay to stare into my house for two hours, movie or not.

    Finally, I think you know it is ethically questionable if not unethical because of your use of the word “tempt”. The first definition of tempt in my dictionary is “to try to get someone to do wrong”.

    I have a few questions for you:

    1. Would you still feel it is okay to use the network if you knew the owner paid by usage instead of a flat monthly fee? Every time you used that open network, it would increase the owner’s bill.

    2. Since the owner’s computer is also on the network which is broadcast into your house, is it also okay to log on to it (without any special effort)? Then, is it okay to browse pictures, folders, and quicken? What about transferring a few images and files you’d like to keep? They are easily available in your home, after all.

    Back to the staring at your neighbors issue:

    3. Is it okay to use binoculars or a telescope to enhance your view of the inside of your neighbors house?

    4. How about using remote electronic equipment to hear the tv and the sex?

    5. What about recording video and audio of everything going on in your neighbor’s house?

    Here’s a better (although still imperfect) analogy:

    Your neighbor is using a hose to water the flowers he planted near the fence between your yards. He stops what he’s doing and drives off hastily. The hose falls just over your property line. You then decide to hook your own hose up to it and water your lawn. After all, he should have turned the faucet off or made sure the hose landed on his own property.

    I feel that the owner of a wireless network should take steps to secure it, just as a homeowner should lock his front door when leaving. However, in either of these cases, I do not feel neglecting to secure your property is tantamount to inviting others to use it. This is just another justification of unethical activity because the internet has blurred ethics and made some wrong acts easy to carry out with the appearance of harmlessness.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 29th 2007 @ 1:34 am
  58. Though this article was written in ’05 the case for wireless INTERNET security is a big one even today. As more people go wireless the more people are going to have open networks.

    If you leave your network open for other people to use – you’re stupid, plain and simple. If you are someone who has piggybacked on your neighbors wireless network – you’re stupid too.

    First off, to piggyback on someones network is in fact, against the law; people have been arrested for it. Whether your intentions of use are simple or malicious, you are using the persons bandwidth without consent therefore technically, it is stealing cause you aren’t paying for it.

    Those that are broadcasting freely may not be smart enough to enable WEP or WPA and if their service is slow because you are piggybacking off it, trust me, they wouldn’t be happy. In most cases they probably got kicked offline, called their service provided tech support and was told to reset their router wiping out their settings.

    Yes, they are stupid for not having it secure in the first place, but don’t assume just cause someone’s access is open that it’s ok to use it. Plus if you do something your not supposed to on someone elses network, they get in trouble, and if they can prove they didn’t do it, the FBI is going to knock on your door cause they’ll check to see who might be in range.

    The term is Wardriving for anyone interested.

    My advice for all parties: be smart, don’t start. Use your own damn wireless…it’s quicker and more reliable anyway. If you have a router and want to secure it, get smart, look up the manual on the routers website and learn how to do it! Don’t be victims and leeches.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 9th 2008 @ 7:15 pm
  59. I think you are an idiot Bryan. I KNOW for a fact that it is NOT considered stealing to use an open access point. Trust me, i called my local police department and there is no law that states it is theft.

    And just so YOU know, i leave my WiFi open and anyone can use it because i am generous and i realize some people can not afford internet. And i have named my network “Free Internet Access”.

    You people are greedy and ignorant.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 16th 2008 @ 6:44 pm
  60. I just skimmed this post because I came accross it while googleing. My neighbor and I were sharing and he got a letter from his ISP telling him to stop.

    As far a wireless internet goes If I had it I would share it. If your information is secure, why not? I have been grateful to unknown people in many different places that I have lived for providing a basic necessity (in this day and age It really is). I would return that favor to other people who are unable or for some reason unwilling to pony up the money to the big ISP.

    On a slightly different note, how does it work for a coffee shop who provides free wifi, what is there liability and contractual obligation?

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 25th 2008 @ 10:08 am
  61. A coffee shop would be fine to connect to.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 25th 2008 @ 3:36 pm
  62. Cable baby… come and hack it!!! good old 8 wires shielded cable. 1Gig home net, all cable. I like the old ways.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 1st 2008 @ 5:01 pm
  63. all that wireless is a form of pollution – maybe thats the real issue! Why do the neighbors get to fill my living space with electromagnetic pollution? Theres no value in it for me!

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 12th 2008 @ 4:17 pm
  64. Using an open access point is not illegal, nor is it unethical in my opinion; however, it’s against the Terms of Use of any ISP I’ve ever heard of to allow others to access your network. So technically, it’s the person who leaves their network unsecure that’s breaking the rules. That said, if you intentionally break somebody’s encryption, that’s clearly unethical.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 19th 2008 @ 5:50 pm

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 30th 2008 @ 11:42 am
  66. Before I moved, I had my network open for over 3 years with no problems although after reading these comments, I probably should have set it up differently but still open. Then when I moved, there was no open networks that I could connect to while I researched and chose my new provider. I need to have internet service so I’m not going to trust that an open network stays open.

    Some providers are starting to offer the ability to share and saying go for it. There was also a article a while back and the ISPs that were interviewed said they didn’t authorize it but had no desire to make people stop. It was basically don’t ask don’t tell.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 29th 2008 @ 7:02 am
  67. Hmm, I saw something about WiFi on my laptop. I need to check into it and see how to get it all started. Good read here. Thx.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 2nd 2008 @ 10:21 pm
  68. #60, so, yeah, it’s months later, but I don’t see that anyone answered this, so I will.

    The deal with the coffee shops is that they have paid a premium to provide the service for free to you. They have the right to prevent any particular person from using it, or to cut it off if they feel like it.

    bakery/sandwich shop I worked in at one point had a huge problem with people abusing the free wi-fi. A coffee and pastry purchase at 8 am does not buy unlimited access to our dining room, coffee refills and wi-fi until closing time! A couple hours maybe, but when your wi-fi use starts interfering with our business by preventing current customers from finding a seat, then you’ve gone too far. Our manager used to switch it off about 11 am, to get the abusers out of there.

    He had to ban one guy, who had gradually worked his way up to using the far end of our dining room as an office, with support staff! During the morning, we were mostly ‘to go’ and our dining room was not too full. We were right by a university, so there was always someone using the wi-fi. A few cashiers at the front thought somebody was selling a lot of ‘no cup’ coffee because they saw so many people using their own mugs at the refill urns. We had 6 cash registers, so everyone thought somebody else had made those sales. Nobody saw the whole picture until it reached the point of one of his support staff taking a clean tray from another table, filling half a dozen cups from the refill urn, taking the thermos of half and half, a pile of sugars, sweeteners and napkins and arranging our biggest table for a meeting!

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 2nd 2008 @ 3:37 pm
  69. that said, I have piggy backed after moving, when waiting for my service to get hooked up.

    I tend to agree that if they can’t be bothered to secure it, they must want to share it.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 2nd 2008 @ 3:41 pm
  70. If you live in an apartment or townhouse, your neighbors’ cable wires probably run through your walls. Does that make it ok to tap into the cable tv signal that they are paying to receive? Tapping into a neighbor’s personal wireless signal seems like the same thing to me, except that in the case of cable, the connection is physical.

    I keep my own wireless network secure for the same reason that I lock my car- which is that I don’t want any unethical people to use it without my permission.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 9th 2008 @ 11:48 am
  71. A open wireless network or access point is also known as a wireless hot spot, it is up to you to secure it. My wifi is not secure and I encourage others to bring their laptops when they visit. Note that all of my computers are firewalled. As far as the neighbors are conconcerned they have faster access. I have Wildblue and it is SSLLLOOWW. I only allow 2 computers at a time on the network and one them is always mine. If you want to check your email it is okay for that. Remember I can use the router log to block to set the router to always block your MAC address.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 15th 2008 @ 6:17 pm
  72. Just a bit of Real Estate Law:
    You do own half the sky above and the ground below your home to the area of property size. So, when someone puts a signal through the air it is infact , invading your private space that you own. So, to that end, does that mean the owners of Wi-Fi need to pay you rental fees for using your air space to get their Wi-Fi signal? And this goes for renters, as, when you rent, you are the tempory owner of the rental. These things can be checked out by reading or asking someone who is in the know like a realtor, courthouse law library or a lawyer educated in Real Estate Law.

    Maybe this can be food for thought for those who think it stealing or Ok. In either case, you either get to put a stop to the connection or you get to pay rent for invading someone’s airspace when they did not ask you to so that you can use the WI-Fi in your home as paind for.

    Many times it is not told or stated all that needs to be known when making a purchase of electronics and the like.

    Best Regards, Vi

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 18th 2008 @ 10:57 pm
  73. Whether you think it’s stealing or not, it’s against the law. I do infosec for a living & yes it it stupid not to lock your network, but most individuals have no idea how to or that you need to. For those of you that are reading this & have’nt secured your network beware because someone using your wifi, can actually lock you out, if you use a router. Having a firewall on your pc means nothing if you can’t access your own wifi.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 29th 2008 @ 12:06 pm
  74. Hi James, is your comment directed to anyone in particular, or is it just in general?

    This is one of those articles that can be commented on till the cows come home and it will still end up the same, much like it is in the comments above; two years later and ongoing. Some feel it OK, some feel it stealing and some do not give a hoot one way or the other.

    One way they could help solve this problem is make it more affordable to the masses and you would see less if none of this going on. But, much like anything else in this world, it is set up for the ones who have and or have a lot with little thought or care for the people in society that do not have the same means, but should be able to have the same access. Money is the root of all evil and if there were a more even playing field there just may be a lot less wi-fi usage without paying by those who can’t afford it .

    As far as I am concerned, I am not judge and jury and have no right to say what is right or wrong for each individual. That is for each individual to decide for themselves. We all have to live with what we decide in life. I have lived on the side of do right all my life and have come out on the screwed end for it. Will I keep living on the do right side of life, sure, because I have no interest in getting to know the police or any other law enforcement. Life has enough problems without asking for more, but as I stated, it is a personal decision what each of us decides to do in our life that really does not ask for the permission of others when you think of it in real terms. Otherwise, people would ask their neighbor’s if they could share their connection. But, I would be willing to bet that there would be more to say no than yes to sharing even if the offer of paying was involved. People have a”me” – “my” – “mine” problem that is not going to go away any time soon and never has.

    Once one knows something is being done it has a different connotation than when one is in the unknowing state. Knowing changes it to a whole different level of worry. No knowing kind of goes to the phrase, “what we do not know will not hurt us”, type of thinking even if it will hurt us. The mind plays tricks and you worry less if you do not know as opposed to when you do. if you know what I mean. I hope I got across what I am actually trying to say.

    This one, from reading the posts, shows many people feel it is a matter of what is perceived by each individual and to that end I am not their Judge or Jury as stated earlier herein. We all have to make decisions in life and we all gain or lose for the choices we make to go with it. Many things in life also depend on how petty one wants to get on any given thing. Anyhow, that is pretty much what I have to say on it.

    Have a great day/night/weekend! It has been nice posting with everyone and reading all the different takes on this subject!

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 7th 2008 @ 2:33 am
  75. I’m guilty of piggybacking wireless. I can’t tell you who’s signal it is, but I receive several different signals from within my home to which I connect through. It’s easy to forget that i’m not paying for it.

    why can’t we refrain from attacking each other and approach our IPSs? the web should be freesource.


    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 12th 2008 @ 4:07 pm
  76. I would not care about the piggybacking and am one who would not have a problem sharing the cost and the air waves. Being from a big family you learned to share early on. The big deal is by ISP’s feel they lose money. They lose more to those who have no connection due to the cost is too prohibitive to their bottom line so they have no internet access at all.

    By the way, who’s attacking, I thought we were all having a discussion. LOL I do agree there should be something done from the end of the ISP regarding price structure. They make it near impossible to afford any kind of decent connection. If they lowered their prices a bit they could make up for it in volume.

    I do not see that happening either due to the money greed factor and stock holders wanting an getting what may be more than they should. Much like the gas situation, it was and is more to do with market speculation that has made it jump more than anything. They make the market high when bad and again when good to suit what income levels they want to take home.

    You do not hear or see them getting blasted for their part in it all. An we all could do the same if we had the same monetary influence and influence of friends in high places. All it takes is having the right connections no matter what the level of deed trying to be accomplished, and as long as you have the right connection and money to back it, you are good to go, also.

    Have a great day/night in spite of it all!

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 12th 2008 @ 6:34 pm
  77. Those of who dont remember when AT&T provided 92% of the telephone service, also dont remember how much it cost. it was not unusual to have a neighbor ask to borrow your phone. I can remember paying $30.00 mo base for metro service just so I could call my sister without long distance charges. I really did not care about a phone call from my phone as long as you did not have to use 1 as the first number. I was making a decent wage then $100. 00 a week gross. Note my sister lived 15 miles away. Now that same player and its splinters have came about to dominate the internet communications industry. Hopefully they will not be allowed to provide the same standard of service as they provide for wireless and POTS. If the the splinters and its Mother have thier way the meter will be running any time you touch your keyboard. If you live in BFE and the only thing available is dailup or Satellite, that satelite connection is metered, throttled and very expensive for what it delivers (20 Gb max per 30 days). I learned it was cheaper to get a 2nd line and use 2 modems, whenever the ole lady isnt yakking on the other line. Piggy backing in the sticks would be the same as back when Ma Bell had the whole thing and you are dailing in a 1 first without asking. I have a 6mbs a second connection now. Giving up enough bandwidth to a guest to check Email is not a problem. But then there are people that are concerned about you stepping on their grass. They tend to scream the loudest and that goes along with the ma & the splinters’ business plan. I wonder how long that grass thing would last if they had 5 or 6 acres to mow?

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 13th 2008 @ 6:41 pm
  78. Nickel,

    Google dd-wrt. It’s a 3rd party firmware that you can load onto your wireless router to replace the stock firmware that comes w/ many wireless routers. It has many advanced features, including disabling the broadcasting of your SSID. If that’s something you REALLY want to do, then it’s worth checking out.


    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 20th 2008 @ 12:58 am
  79. Yeah there’s nothing wrong with jacking the internets from people. In fact, I’m jacking an excellent connection right now at 54Mbps and have been for 3 months. Next time I move, I’m not settling on a place unless I know I can jack the internets there too. I do my best to use as much as the bandwidth as I possibly can just to spite the people dumb enough to pay big money for the hi speed internets and not password protect it.

    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 25th 2008 @ 4:21 am
  80. Okay…my take is….

    Personal responsibility.

    If you dont want people using a open connection you have, secure it.

    Stop being a whiny butt and throwing the ‘its illegal’ book when you are too damned lazy to secure your connection.

    One interesting point i never hear addressed by the crybaby ‘its illegal’ wussy crowd: YOU ARE PUTTING ELECTROMAGNETIC MICROWAVE BAND RADIATION IN MY HOUSE.

    Sure, the amounts may be small, but regardless it’s still flooding into me, my kid, my pets, etc. at any given time.

    If you’re going to smoke some weed near me on your property, dont be whining about me stealing your stash, when i get a contact buzz standing on my own property.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2009 @ 2:14 pm
  81. ELECTROMAGNETIC…….blah blah bla…..
    You’re an idiot.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 22nd 2009 @ 10:13 am
  82. It is stealing. Piggybacking is not a matter of picking up a $20 bill that an unknown person dropped before you found it later. It is a matter of picking up a $20 bill that you watched someone drop, and sniffing around in the same spot, day after day, to see if they do it again (intent, mens rea). Careless on their part? Yes. Intentional? No. Most people who pay for internet access and then use wifi in their home or business don’t have a clue as to how to secure it, or the reasons they should. All they want is the convenience of using their latop at the dining room table or sitting on the can. They give no thought to a neighbor who may be downloading illegal programs or images over their internet connection. All it takes it one no-knock search by authorities to lose your computers and storage, without a clue as to why, and then face federal criminal charges. Claiming ignorance and/or innocence at that point is no defense, because you cannot prove anybody accessed your wifi but you. Your name is the only one on the account.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 23rd 2009 @ 4:23 pm
  83. Most people are honest and believe in paying for what they want, need, and get until the cost is set so high that they make it out to be like it is meant only for the well to do, affluent, middle class and higher and not for the ones who need it and possibly need it more, and that is, the poor or less well off who struggle every day to meet bills and then to have schools say your homework is to be done on the computer. What happens if you cannot afford one, and therefore, do not have one, they now have burdened the parent even more by the child having to go to/be taken (gas and time they may not have due to working longer hours to support the family.

    Not everyone is cut out to be or have the lots of money in the pocket syndrome due to having been able to learn and earn better than another who may have or has difficulties that hold them back, We never really know the reasons why some do better than others and it is not all laziness either, and some to most are not liars, they really have difficulties and no one in grade school on up picked up on it or did anything to get them to be a better learner and better educated and able to make more money. So many things stem from the beginning of a person’s time and how they cope and adapt to what is around them and how they then deal with life as an adult as a result of it). Not all things in life are a it just happened thing. some is through an accumulation of time. My reason for being neutral on many things. You do not know the motive and, no, I am not saying stealing anything is right. But, I do have compassion and understanding for those who feel the need to obtain their internet connection that way, especially if they have to have it and cannot afford the exorbitant pricing that could easily be made up in volume what is lost in cost.

    And, I honestly do not think they lose anything in cost, it is much like the housing industry, it is the gluttony of America of the few who can take from the less fortunate to benefit the corporate bottom line and then get to walk away scott free for making a mess of it all. The prices charged are ridiculous and there are those that the internet is their only means of communication with the outside world and have even helped to say lives of some. I just believe in it should be accessible to all and not the select few who can afford more than the less fortunate. And, we are supposed to have compassion for our fellow man. Does anyone know what has happened to that latley??? Just my take on it all.

    The other way around it could be that if someone lives in an apartment complex or tenement then make the whole building wired up with a reduced fee that is either included in the rent or that is paid by each individual monthly with the rent and if they do not pay they get blocked somehow. I do not know all there is to know on how signals work and all, but there has to be a better way to make it more accessible to the masses and not just the few who has more money to do as they please.

    The part I do think needs to be addressed is if someone is downloading content that could create a legal situation that you had nothing to do with. To which, I do not have an answer as I am not an IT of any sort just like the rest of the world, paying for the line of service I have and what I pay for is not all they crack it up to be when pitching you to sign on with them and their famous comeon lines at signup of how much better their service is when they do timeouts that no one said would happen therefor violating your right to use what you pay for. So, it is not just the consumer that rips off the company, but the company that rips off the consumer. Anyone know how to stop timeouts from happening and then they use the guise it is for security.

    If their security is that poor then they need to do something about it as I wrote to customer service which is not service at all. I got a reply that was automated answers based on some tag words and then another automated reply that lead me to nowhere at all but where I started. Many ISP’s are a joke and have no problem screwing the public, but do not like it in return. I was raised that turnabout is fair play, meaning don’t do to me what you do not want done to yourself, period. I think what others to to harm another comes back on them without having to afford the recourse on your own, I am not spiteful and so let nature take its course most of the time, unless legal avenues need to be taken otherwise.

    Thanks for reading my two cents worth, I guess I am more laid back on some issues than others and have a more sharing nature due to growing up in a big family. It is sort of second nature to be that way, share and share alike or no one gets.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 28th 2009 @ 7:18 pm
  84. It’s stealing. It’s a service paid for by one person, and another unpaid person stealing the service. It’s not sharing. I did not give my apartment building neighbors permission to use something I’ve paid for; for free. If the internet was meant to be free no one would have to pay for the service and privilage to use it. I don’t want people stealing my cable or electrice service so why should I “share” my internet service to others who don’t ask or pay the cost?

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 17th 2009 @ 8:51 am
  85. A similar concept, I think, is picking up electricity by harvesting radiation from a passing power line. I think people have actually been prosecuted for doing this. The difficulty for me is that this radiation really does intrude into my space. If I wanted to use that spectrum, within the bounds of my property lines, for my own purposes I would be out of luck. Yet, if I glean either power or WiFi service I am a thief. Perhaps someone can tell me where is the philosophical balance.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 9th 2009 @ 11:45 am
  86. NO it is NOT okay to access another person’s wifi. It slows the person who PAYS for the internets connection to very slow. Additionally, the article makes “password” protecting seem like the best solution. Even with password protect, random with my own added, my neighbors have hacked my connection. Bottom line, you want “free” internet then go to a “free” wifi hotspot

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 30th 2009 @ 11:51 am
  87. I think it’s perfectly okay to access open networks in your ‘hood; just be respectful of band-use, and avoid logging into your bank account via the open source.

    Simply reading your newspaper online via a neighbor’s connection won’t hurt anything! It won’t slow them down, it’s not like your viewing child porn…what is the big stinkin deal??

    The folks that would cause trouble will likely find a way to do so no matter what, so resources probably shouldn’t be wasted trying to close this particular lil loophole.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 3rd 2009 @ 12:51 pm
  88. Yea, well for the last month or two I’ve been downloading content (Movies, music etc) from someones wi-fi in our apartment block. I guess i should be more respectful of bandwidth and download limits etc. It is sooooo easy to secure your network against amateurs like me. Even 64bit wep would keep me at bay. I simply cant help myself. I do feel a little guilty about it though…..
    Such is life!

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 11th 2009 @ 3:54 am
  89. Your computer asks for permission to access their network, and their computer grants permission and assigns you an IP.

    How this can be construed as “stealing” I cannot fathom.

    If you break a password or encryption, you are guilty of “unauthorized access of a computer network” and are morally in the wrong. If you access a network that freely grants you permission, then how could this possibly be wrong? I leave my access point open so that my neighbors and nearby travelers can access the net for free. You should, too (with appropriate safeguards).

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 22nd 2009 @ 6:57 pm
  90. RE: Atkins
    I agree with you in why can they intrude in your air space, but you cannot partake of what is intruding your airspace and should be able to seeing when you own a home you own the space above and below to the halfway mark.

    I think much like anything else in this world, someone wants money or you are not getting what they have and if you are getting what they have and are not paying for it, they will find a way to make you pay anyway even if it is an intrusion into your air space. That is OK because there is money to be made and you are not making them money so you are the persecuted. Of course, they will be backed by state and government because they too (state & government) get paid by what is whacked for taxes so why wouldn’t they back them? Keeps all of them happy. What would make even more happy and create less to no stealing is if they lowered the price and made it affordable to the masses instead of making it affordable only to those who are better off than the rest.

    I never did get why it is done this way, as I see it if they feel they are going to loose, they are going to make it up in volume what they think they lose in jacking the cost so less pay for it at a higher price. I refuse to pay the exorbitant prices of what they want for technology, so I go without it. I am not paying the ridiculous prices they gouge out of people. There is no reason they cannot make it more affordable, it has been around long enough now and the costs usually come down, but it hasn’t really for the net and cable. I think it is all a joke and that the one’s who pay the high costs set the precedent for the rest that follow. Once someone is willing to pay higher prices and the companies know they have them hooked it is all over, they do not have to lower their prices and therefore, do not. Due to they know someone is going to pay what they ask because they just have to have the lastest this or that. They would all starve if they waited on me. I believe in a fair price for a fair product. I do not see what they charge as a fair price for a fair procudt at all! So, I have the minimum that allows me to use the net as I need to and that is it. I totally refuse to hand over to the cable companies what they want and will more than likely never sign on for cable. On top of it all they repeat so much that you can get that for free on the new digital chanellling. And they wonder why people’s health is not what it used to be, well in the past you spent less time inside and more outside and the food content had more nutrients. Another reason not to buy into all the advertised BS and prices charged when that money can go to better uses than the net and cable, like healthy living for one. Most subjects tend to have more far reaching affects and aspects than what is sitting at the forfront and this is one of those subjects that a lot of side discussions could come out of.

    Have a great day/night!

    Again, just my two cents.

    Comment by Anonymous — Sep 2nd 2009 @ 2:41 am
  91. Eric, YOU’RE the moron. What did I say that wasn’t true, dumbass?

    EM Radiation is coming into MY PROPERTY and you’re saying I shouldn’t have a right to utilize it?

    Comment by Anonymous — Sep 7th 2009 @ 1:42 am
  92. This has surely given me food for thought. I live in an area so remote all I have is dial up. I can’t even get cable. Someone near by does have wi-fi although it is weak (1 bar). If I had wi-fi, as long as someone wasn’t getting any private info or cutting my use time, I wouldn’t care to share.

    One thing that came to mind, if someone had grape vines growing on a fence between your yard and theirs, would you buy the grapes that grew over on your side of the fence or just eat them? I’d eat them and not think twice, and if they were my grape vines, I wouldn’t care if my neighbor picked and ate the ones on his side of the fence.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 30th 2009 @ 8:13 am
  93. If you are using U-verse and doing video streaming during peak periods (aka when all the TVs in the neighborhood are gobbling up the bandwidth)using on demand, you might as well wait till midnight. I have seen internet speeds drop from the 6 mbps promised to 100kbs. The best connection I ever got was 1.5mbps @ 3-5am using wire or 1.0 mbps using wireless)Now if the neibhorhood had multiple open u-verse wi-fi, I could get 200kbps, maybe. AT&T does 2 things. 1. It will sacrifice internet bandwidth for TV. 2. Make configuring your u-verse internet connection as a convenient open network impossible for the average user. Funny it is also damn near impossible to turn off the wifi. If your only consideration is personal privacy and ID protection dont use wifi. Anyone with a reasonable accumalation of computer knowledge can crack your wifi net, access it and your windows computer. AT&T does not care if you dont mind sharing, because it sees sharing as a loss of revenue. Note that the apparent target revenue is $250 per month or more for TV, wifi, phone and cell service per household. In the good old US of AT&T you can only rent the fence. And the grapes ain’t free no matter who planted the vine, because it is growing on their fence

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 30th 2009 @ 10:41 am
  94. With all the health implications, lowering the price of wifi connection is not the answer (as money doesn’t necessarily quarantee solution, work on managing and controlling overexposure of useless wifi connections.)Pollution is pollution is pollution, something should be done to require carpooling on the “internet superhighway.” Why use so much when a little could do the job. Companies should be encouraged/required to go along with the “sharing;” of course, educate the illiterates, like myself, in the art of setting up needed security.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 10th 2010 @ 10:06 pm
  95. “Health implications”??

    God, people will believe anything.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 10th 2010 @ 10:12 pm
  96. Something public could be set up for those hungry downloads that slow down regular connections. Courtesy and consideration is desirable when sharing.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 10th 2010 @ 10:20 pm
  97. I enjoyed reading the comments, but I googled to see how to resolve the problem of a neighbor’s wifi interferance without complaining to him. His overpowers my connection when I’m in my porch. He is 2 houses away! I probably should add that we are right by the beach.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 10th 2010 @ 10:27 pm
  98. There is a law that refers to anybody who “intentionally accesses a computer without authoriezation or exceeds authorized access” it is US Code Title 18, Part 1, Paragraph 47.

    A suspect of this law (puggybacking or hacking) is punishable for a minimum of 5 years imprisonment and $10,000.00 fine.

    It is a theft of service.

    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 23rd 2010 @ 11:57 am
  99. It is not theft, it is not wrong, and it should not be punishable in any way.

    If you’ve configured your network to give access to anyone that requests it, then anyone who can access it is inherently authorized.

    “Unauthorized access” is only applicable if you’ve put a password on your computer/network and someone cracks it or bypasses it.

    “A person is guilty of unauthorized use of a computer when he knowingly uses or causes to be used a computer or computer service without authorization *and the computer utilized is equipped or programmed with any device or coding system, a function of which is to prevent the unauthorized use of said computer or computer system*.”

    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 23rd 2010 @ 12:02 pm
  100. Plain and simple if you do not know how to pass protect your connection then it’s your fault.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 8th 2011 @ 3:49 pm
  101. I would not piggyback on a neighbor’s service without their consent.. it’s just an integrity thing with me. However, I live in a small duplex and my new adjacent neighbor is sweet and retired and just recently was given a refurbished computer. I have invited her to piggyback on my Internet service… but we are both currently trying to figure out what she needs to have inorder to do that.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 21st 2011 @ 8:09 pm
  102. If your neighbor’s computer is wi-fi compatible she doesn’t need any special equipment, just a password if you internet is secure. If she does not have a wi-fi compatible computer I think there is a thing like a flash drive she can plug into her computer to make it compatible…not sure about that as all my computers have had built in wi-fi modems.

    Just take note though that if you have problems with your connectivity and with your modem freezing up, the service provider can charge you for letting someone piggy back because it cheats them out of money.

    You should not have a problem if she does not watch movies or Youtube videos a lot on it

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 21st 2011 @ 8:32 pm
  103. does it take any power from my signal to let people use it (wifi)

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2011 @ 9:59 am
  104. No, it doesn’t take any signal away from you. Wi-Fi is far-field radiation, not near-field.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 23rd 2011 @ 10:07 am
  105. A lot of people seem to have forgotten the basic element of wifi.

    It’s RADIO.

    Computer or no, it’s a form of radio waves.

    If someone is broadcasting them thru my house, do I not have a right to tune in and listen to the radio station?

    Nuff said.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 13th 2011 @ 12:57 am
  106. Interesting–you seem to have a split moral personality. You don’t have a problem using someone else’s WiFi if it ‘intrudes’ into your space, but you would be ‘pissed’ if someone used yours.

    Furthermore, while admitting that sharing is theft from the ISP, you seem to promote sharing as a thing to do (to save money).

    You can’t really have it both ways–man up and take a position, then be prepared to defend it with some reasonable logic.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 15th 2011 @ 1:45 pm
  107. will it cost me money if someone else uses my wifi?

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 27th 2011 @ 9:02 pm
  108. I always piggy backing ……… it’s free , why I have to pay for it !

    Cheers !

    Bobby the freeloader

    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 16th 2011 @ 5:01 pm
  109. if your dog comes into my yard and drops his toy right at my feet, I will play with him. However, I probably won’t feel responsible for feeding him. If you couldn’t afford to feed your dog, I am sure I wouldn’t let him starve. “just be nice” you give a little you get a little.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 21st 2011 @ 9:57 am
  110. ha ha!!!!!! i download tons of stuff of my naybours wifi 🙂 i download 1gb games on a dayliy basis! their bandwith is still fast! i went on my download list it added to 34GB!!!

    Comment by Anonymous — May 10th 2012 @ 3:19 am
  111. Here’s my two cents… I am very good friends with my neighbor behind me. He secures his wifi and capably so, since he is IT. At some point (can not recall) during our long friendship, he offered to me the utilization of his wifi signal. It has been years now and I do still use it. My bandwidth is limited though I do not require rocket ship speeds since I am not a “power user”. He allows my children to connect their kindles to it. When I visit him with laptop and/or tablet in tow, I use it under his roof. I use it at home with my desktop. What, exactly, is wrong with this? Frankly, when all argument has (and it really has) been exhausted…. Has anybody ever paused for a moment to consider WHO WRITES THE RULES and for what self-serving purpose/s they have been instilled or enforced? I – and not to mention my children and loved ones…. And you and your loved ones – are all subjected to the bombardment of these (wifi) and a multitude of other RFI offerings at their whim and our ignorant acceptance. Considering that there is slowly mounting evidence supporting potential health hazards, why do we toil over the ‘radio waves that got away’? There is no moral question here on our end, only theirs. It’s not somebody’s open back door, nor somebody’s unfenced yard. If it’s not an encoded signal and there is no impedance or harm committed by an outside person with reasonable understanding and appreciation for its presence, what is the big effing deal?. At best, it is a grey area that can not be deemed either way by a single objective deduction. We are polluted every day by the same entities who would charge us for said pollution if they could just figure out how to force our purchase of it. Now, who’s breaking moral/ethical laws? You want to know something interesting? Look up how corporations/elites hoard mineral rights to others’ properties. Maybe then you self-righteous and misguided naysayers will see in a less skewed light what this otherwise senseless debate is really about – NOTHING, if not simply a guise to distract us from the real crimes that are being committed. Our all-powerful government keeps telling us when we’re wrong or breaking THEIR laws. Sooner or later, some of us begin believing it. Sad.

    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 2nd 2013 @ 10:29 am
  112. Ok guys so its now 2015 10years after this has been posted.
    much has changed…

    wifi is now transmitted in 2 portions from ISPs gateways (modem/router combos) 1 portion is person, for the customer, its a secure private network. the other portion is public, so anyone (often those who have the same ISP) can access it.

    so say i have an Xfinity gateway, and i am away from home and the place i am at has a neighbor who also has Xfinity (comcast) i can access the internet, it will launch a webpage that asks me to enter my Xfinity account info, after which i am logged in to my service securely through this public wifi hotspot.

    I see it only getting wider in range as more people need access to network for their livelihood, with more and more jobs becoming network based, wifi is becoming more of a nessessity… and will only grow to be more easily accessable, as it is most fastfood joints, resturants, shopping centers and even gas stations broudcast free network that is intended for public access… and its only going to grow wider… just give it time.

    also there is a company that is in production of a personal wifi hotspot transmitter they call it the “Lantern” with the notion that nobody should be left in the dark and the matto that every village should have a library of knowledge. the Lantern is basically a solar powered satallite internet reciever, that broadcasts the recieved satallite networks over quite a large area… the Lantern is the size of a standard flashlight, although it can only download 10GBs worth of data per month, the inventors are shooting for a 100GB version by the end of 2015, and see it possibly jumping to 1TB by the end of 2016… the best part of this is there is no monthly fees… just buy the Lantern and go connect to the world.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 6th 2015 @ 7:33 am

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